“How did it get so late so soon?” Kareem asked his school principal, sitting in the park. “How could I go so wrong, sir? When did I divert so far away from your teachings?”
“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.” Mr. Nair replied placing his hand on Kareem’s head. “There’s never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing. I have been proud of you all my life. It’s still not late, choose the right path now”
“Insha'Allah! I will sir. Now there’s nothing left to do but go back. Trace my wrong steps and make it right any way I can.”
Jennifer brushed off the solitary tear that escaped watching Kareem and Mr. Nair hug from the distance, securely hidden behind a dumpster. Her heart swelled with love for Kareem all over again. This is the one she fell for all those years ago.
“Where are you taking us?” Tara asked the masked man who stood there in van pointing his rifle at their, her and other 3 media personnel, heads.
That man just stood there glaring at them one by one.
“So, you’re not the one in lead? Or even you don’t know where that boss of yours’ is taking us to?” Tara taunted him, in spite of the fear that clutched her heart.
He still stood there silently, throwing murderous looks towards Tara particularly.
Tara would be lying if she said she wasn’t scared but not so much for her safety, she guessed there was a reason why they chose media members particularly from the crowd of hundreds of observers. She knew they needed her and her other 3 fellow members alive, for now at least.
Hell! She even day dreamed of being held hostage, if only to put her spy cam-recorder to use someday, the one tailored in her shoe. It was difficult given the situation with all their hands tied to the central pole in the centre of the van, with four of them sitting like lions in Emblem of India. She tried getting her shoe as angled towards the face of their captor as she could.
“Ustaad!” Aryan bowed in respect as he was called in to meet.
“As-salamu alaykum! Kaho kya khabar hai hindustaan ki?” The voice boomed in the closed room. Unable to see the source of the voice Aryan looked around hoping to find his godfather.
“Ustaad bas akhiri maukaam aa gya hai. Humare do log is waqt research centre par kabza karte hi honge. Insha'Allah mission kamyaab ho kar hi rahega.”
“Hmmm. Insha'Allah allah tumhara saath de. Khuda Hafiz.”
“Khuda Hafiz.” Aryan bowed again and left.
Jennifer woke up dazed. Looking around she gathered she was in a hospital, but she didn’t remember coming here. She checked her wrist for time but stopped short, horrified to find blood on her hands. She didn’t remember how it got there.
A nurse came in the room, reaching for the monitors to check on Jennifer. “Excuse me. How did I come here? What happened to me?”
Nurse looked at her with sympathetic eyes. “Miss. It’s ok, you have mild concussion. You hit your head when you fainted on the road. Doctor gave you some flat Anaesthesia to keep you sedated till you recover.”
Fainted. Where did I… stunned she could now remember everything. She was waiting at the point where Kareem had asked her to meet after meeting up with the principal. She remembered waiting there for 15 minutes till someone Principal called on her phone.
“Hello! Miss Ahana, is it?” Some unknown voice answered.
“Yes! Who is this?”
“Miss I am inspector Sharma, I am sorry to inform you that the person who this phone belonged to was just found dead here in an alley. I am trying to locate his relatives. Yours was the last number received on this phone. Do you know any of his relatives?”
Jennifer stood there scared-stiff. Dead. Sir? Dead. But I saw him half hour ago in the park with Kareem.
“Hello miss! Is anybody there?”
“Hello officer. Yes, yes I do know his daughter. I’ll convey the message right away.”
“Thank you miss.”
Kareem!! Dialling principal’s daughter’s number she started running back towards the park where she had last seen Kareem. But she didn’t have to run too far, not 20 feet away from where she was supposed to meet him 15 minutes ago, lay Kareem surrounded in his own blood, lifeless, limp. His face ashen, eyes closed, his hands open wide palm facing upwards.
“Kareeeeeeem! No no noooooooo!” Jennifer rushed upto where he lay. Pressing with bohe her hands over his heart, she tried giving him CPR. “Wake up! Kareem you can’t do this to me!” Pumping over and over again she kept up her tries. Wake up! Kareem we have so many wrong to be made right. Kareem! Kareem!...”
Her hands. This was Kareem’s blood. Her love, her life. Everything that now would remain incomplete… without him.
The other terrorist who was till now engaged with the van’s driver, came into the back compartment. Tara cunningly but subtly crossed her legs in order to capture the new face in her hidden shoe cam-recorder. She’ll need it, if she survived this.
“How much more time will it take?” The masked man who stood with his rifle, asked the new entrant.
“About half an hour. This Delhi traffic! Even in the time of national crisis, these people still have got places to go!” He said in irritation and spat on the Van’s floor.
“So you knew where we are going.” Tara interjected smirking up at the masked man. Other hostages squirmed in fear, nudging Tara to stop provoking them.
Second terrorist, though not masked in fabric had a face as expressionless as a pumpkin, wearing a mask or another kind. “What is she talking about?”
“Nothing! I think she is overly excited about getting killed.” Masked man finally addressed her, almost.
“We are not killing them yet. Not until they have served their purpose. Not until we get our orders from Ustaad.”
“Where are you taking us? And why?” Tara interjected again. Pulling knees towards her shoulders.
Second man eyed her in contempt. Crouching in front of her, he regarded her with narrowed eyes. “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you.” Smiling wickedly he continued “From here we are going to reach the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Once there, we will make you media monkeys to jump through some hoops and then when we are done with you, we’ll blow you all up with the stadium. BOOM!”
Tara sat there gaping at him.
Read the next part of the story here.